“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit. It is the realisation that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being”.
Welcome to the academic year 2019-2020.
I was very happy to see the number of schools across the region especially in the United Arab Emirates, that deviated from the “normal” ways of welcoming teachers to the new school year and adopted a new, and in my opinion better approach. Instead of a back to school week, packed with boring PowerPoint driven professional development sessions, teachers in many schools were treated to massages, yoga sessions, days out, among other more enjoyable options. Returning to work after the summer holidays can be a very stressful time for educators, added to that, is the fact that many educators have moved schools, cities or even countries, so the last thing they need is to sit idly, watching someone read copious amounts of information from a PowerPoint. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against PowerPoints, but I strongly believe that the first interactions that teachers have with their schools at the start of the new academic year, should be something that invigorates them and fill them with hope and optimism to face the tasks they have in front of them.
As the quote above states, wellness is vital, but It takes work, and as educators, we have to be especially intentional about prioritising our wellbeing. As a mother of two and an educator, I know all too well how difficult it is to take care of yourself while fulfilling all your other obligations, but you simply must. You have heard the saying, you cannot pour from an empty cup. This is especially true for educators who give of themselves to their students every day. Take time to refill your cup. You have to decide what energises and recharges you, and when you know what it is, make a commitment to yourself that you will do it. Learn to use your no. This may be hard in certain circumstances when dealing with your line manager, but politely point out to him or her all the other things that will suffer if you take on something else. Refuse to be on every committee, find hacks and technology which will save you time and energy.
By the time you are reading this magazine, you would have met your students, take time to talk to them about their wellbeing and things they can do to take care of themselves. Encourage them to talk to someone about anything that is bothering them, let them know that they are not alone in whatever It is that is bothering them. The time spent helping students improve their wellbeing will pay dividends academically and in other areas. Let’s make this the year we really take care of ourselves and each other.
Now I know that I have said a mouthful but wait there is more. The pages of this issue of Teach Middle East Magazine is loaded with gems to help you have an amazing school year, so keep on reading. Our writers, who are also educators from the Middle East and further afield, have provided articles to help you with teaching and learning, education technology and so much more. We have also provided powerful articles to help you conquer life outside the classroom in the After The Bell section. Keep turning the pages and delve into the world of travel, personal development, finance and health.
Just before you go, I would like to extend a special invitation to all of you to attend the upcoming Middle East School Leadership Conference, taking place in Dubai on October 8-9, 2019. For more information and to register, please visit www.schoolleadersme.com.
Thank you for sticking with me to the end, and to show our appreciation, please check out our social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, where we are giving away some fantastic prizes in our weekly competitions, exclusively for educators.
I wish you all an amazing academic year!
Leisa Grace Wilson